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The Aircraft Wreck

The Airplane Wreck, which has been sitting abandoned on the black sand of Sólheimasandur for 43 years, has become a considerable tourist attraction in the last years.

Superstars like Justin Bieber have been instrumental in developing this interest, being filmed in, on and around the wreck and then later posted their videos on YouTube. But why is this old US Navy aircraft placed here and what is the story behind.

In November 1973, the airplane, of the type Douglas Dakota DC3, was returning to Keflavik airport after delivering cargo to a radar station near Hornafjörður, East Iceland. On board were seven crew members.

When the plane was over the vast black sands in South Iceland, something happened. The plane started to gradually loose altitude and eventually the pilots were forced to crash land on the black sand.

Speculations about the crash have been many and the exact reason is not known. Some say that there was a mechanical failure, others say that ice had accumulated on the engines thus making the plane loose altitude and some other sources suggest that the pilot switched to a wrong fuel tank so the plane ran out of fuel.

Amazingly all crew members survived the impact, the plane was abandoned on the sand and no effort was ever made to recover the wreck.

Now 44 years later, the wreckage is still there on the sand, it has suffered remarkably little damage from the elements, although the tail and part of the wings are missing and the windows are broken.

After images of famous people began to appear in the world press, the ordinary travelers interest rose. For a while the intrusion was so great that landowners were forced to close the path down to the wreck for all traffic and guests will now have to make the nearly 4 kilometers from the road to the site on foot. Unfortunately, some visitors have felt the urge to spoil the pleasure for other as sometime last year, the wreck was “decorated” with an ugly pink graffiti bomb done by some graffiti enthusiast who couldn’t resist to vandalize the plane.

The plane wreck has become one of the most visited landmark in the area. Countless images and videos have been featured in the social media and in TV commercials. There is something “mystical” about the wreck, perhaps it’s due to the location which is both desolate and isolated.

Arcanum’s South-Iceland Coast tour and ATV quad bike ride on the black volcanic sand beach includes a stop by the famous aircraft wreck. Click here for details.


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